Infrastructure Peering Column - 2011
Infrastructure Peering Column - 2011
Table Of Contents: January
Infrastructure Peering - The Topic for the Next Decade
The OSI Model - Investment by Layers
A Model for Access - Axcess Ontario
The Why of Broadband
The How of Broadband
The Who, Will and When of Broadband
The Global Investment in Broadband Infrastructure
Infrasturcture of the Internet Society
Fiber, Broadband, the Net, What Does it All Mean?
The New American Dream: Real Broadband Speed
Infrastructure Peering - The Topic for the Next Decade By Hunter Newby, CEO | January 01, 2011 This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
In February 2005 the VoIPeering column was born. It was not long before that when the first dedicated, commercial VoIP peering service was launched in the world. For six years, I have covered this segment of the industry, essentially since its inception. It has been an exciting time of innovation, creation and growth. Seeing a real, meaningful service created in a void and having so many established network operators move to use it in such a short period of time was amazing on many levels. The fact that the function of peering IP networks had been in existence for many years prior, but none had specified VoIP as a specific IP application to be peered, or a specific VoIP peering service created was very interesting. The point is that there is always room for improvement. In the spirit of improvement and continuing the education process of the evolving networking landscape I have chosen to update the title of my column for 2011 and beyond. VoIPeering is now Infrastructure Peering. There are many reasons I have chosen this as the new title. 1. There is quite a bit of network infrastructure that goes in to supporting VoIP and VoIP peering. I do not believe that everyone fully understands and appreciates this. One example is the relationship between Ethernet (both wired and wireless) and VoIP. There are real costs in the lower layer elements that tie in to cost, QoS and other factors of VoIP and VoIP peering. 2. VoIP is not the only application for IP that gets peered. As INTERNET TELEPHONY parent company TMC (News - Alert) itself opens up to covering more layers including dark fiber, wireless backhaul, cloud computing, etc., it makes logical sense to address many IP applications â€“ video, HPC, financial trading, media, etc., and not just VoIP. 3. I have been involved in VoIP since its commercial inception at ITXC and VoIP peering since the creation of the Voice Peering Fabric and have tracked the growth, creation of new businesses, models, etc. There is still a lot going on in the world in this regard, but I do not want to limit editorial coverage to just that. VoIP is becoming more inherent in things like video and gaming, and as I have written many times, it is becoming much more difficult to justify voice as a standalone business. Not that the application needs to be a standalone business to get coverage, but technical and business implications of all applications should and will be considered. 4. The amount of capital being invested in physical network infrastructure on a global basis is staggering. There is a massive shift in the world to upgrade all networks, similar to new highways being built in response to and anticipation of growth demand for all things networked. Just the number
2 of new submarine systems being built around Africa is amazing and is sure to change the continent and its countries, governments, businesses and people. The same is true for Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America. That’s the present day news story. 5. I like the name Infrastructure Peering for two reasons. First, you can’t really peer infrastructure, so it will make people wonder. After they read they’ll get it and appreciate it and hopefully stop taking it for granted. Second, it still highlights peering, which at its root implies cooperation and specifically cooperation between various networks, applications and ultimately the people and machines behind them. This universal standardization is critical if we as a planet are to evolve. All of this ties in quite well to ITEXPO (News - Alert), as the event really has evolved to become a United Nations of applications, services, devices, etc., and their respective representatives. Underpinning it all is network infrastructure. No matter where you go, you need layer one for things to function properly, or at all. So, welcome to Infrastructure Peering. As always your comments, input and story ideas are welcome. Hunter Newby, CEO Allied Fiber (News - Alert) writes the Infrastructure Peering column for TMCnet To read more of Hunter’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
The OSI Model - Investment by Layers
By Hunter Newby, CEO | February 01, 2011 This article originally appeared in the Feb. 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
As complicated as the networked world seems to be today there is actually a rather simple way to break it all down – the open systems interconnection model. From Wikipedia: “The Open Systems (News - Alert) Interconnection model (OSI model) is a product of the Open Systems Interconnection effort at the International Organization for Standardization. It is a way of sub-dividing a communications system into smaller parts called layers. A layer is a collection of conceptually similar functions that provide services to the layer above it and receives services from the layer below it. On each layer an instance provides services to the instances at the layer above and requests service from the layer below. For example, a layer that provides error-free communications across a network provides the path needed by applications above it, while it calls the next lower layer to send and receive packets that make up the contents of the path. Conceptually two instances at one layer are connected by a horizontal protocol connection on that layer. Most network protocols used in the market today are based on TCP/IP stacks.” Most people in the networked world are familiar with the OSI model, but typically those that are experts in one layer are not so well versed in the others. This is a result of the depth of each and the various functions, services and providers that must be comprehended. The good news is that the OSI model is a standard, and it is meant to allow for the hand-off from one layer to the next in a seamless fashion. So, basically, an expert in one particular layer need not be an expert in another for the entire system to reach optimal performance. Although there may be slight differences between layers at the hand-off points, there are dramatic differences between fully separated layers such as the physical layer and the application layer. Usually network and IT people that are responsible for Ethernet and IP administration can perform functions in the local and wide area at layers 2 and 3. These people are typically not application or software engineers, but they can get an office network going to support those applications. Software developers may have an understanding of Ethernet and IP, but that is not necessarily their expertise as they focus more on programming languages in layer 7. Neither of these two groups of expertise posses subject matter expertise on building the physical links that make all that they know and do possible.
2 Infrastructure peering is, in essence, this layered model. It is the physical infrastructure that supports the OSI stacks in the same way that the physical human body supports the DNA within it. Of course, without the DNA, there is no purpose for the physical. The same can be said for physical objects of any kind and the laws of physics. They are intertwined, and their relationship is inherent. Without acknowledging each and every law or layer, and having a basic understanding and appreciation of each and its respective role, a prudent network plan cannot be effectuated. The peering that is taking place, whether on a P2P level between people, or machines, or on a network to network IP peering level, actually happens physically at one or many points of infrastructure. When the lowest layer is overlooked, or forgotten, even the best laid network plans will go awry. (In the old days of dial-up, the World-Wide-Wait and America-On-Hold sums it up. Today it would be the impact of the iPhone (News - Alert) on the AT&T wireless network.) One of the most important things in the world when making any type of plan is predictability. Having the information to know cause and effect, input and output, is the only way to know and then mitigate the risk of loss, or failure. These are the elements required to maximize the return on any investment. Each layer of the OSI model is bound to this same principle in and of itself as much as they are bound to it between and among each other. All investments in any aspect of information technology, devices, equipment and networks of all kinds public and private are therefore bound to this as well. In a totally local, fully private scenario where the end result is to run a single application and only be connected and functioning within a single environment and unto itself then perhaps some of the risk is already mitigated, but alas this is not the norm. In fact it is far from it. The reality is that everything of any meaningful value to society outside of a lab is connected. To be disconnected is to be non-existent. Unfortunately over the past ten years the vast majority of businesses have been conditioned to not ask about anything beyond their own internal networks and to rely on the public Internet and the ISPs to provide them access for interconnection to all things not on their own IP networks. This encouraged ignorance has created a very detrimental situation in the United States called net neutrality. The situation is that net neutrality has nothing to do with the Internet itself (in the realm of public layer 3 and up to layer 7), but rather network access to the Internet (the physical link, layer 1 and 2). The issue is that due to ignorance the FCC (News - Alert) is now attempting to regulate the public Internet instead of attempting to create a real plan to resolve the issue of independent, physical access to it. To make matters worse, no one can really have an educated opinion about the subject since everyone has been so misinformed for so many years. Being told the untruth repeatedly by the mass media that VoIP means voice over the Internet, and actually believing it, has contributed to our disastrous present reality. Internet protocol is not the Internet. The Internet is not your broadband cable connection. Your cable provider provides you access to the Internet. If you are an end user consumer, you may not have many, or any, choices so therefore you are subject to your providersâ€™ discretion. This discretion is now what is in question with the FCC, but that is not and should not be a question of the Internet itself.
3 If “you” are a business, you might have other options, and if high-speed access to the Internet is something that your business requires to operate optimally then you will seek the best possible connection even going to the extent of moving your office location to a building or state that has a greater number of better, more economical options for access. The issue is that both consumers and businesses are connecting to the same Internet, but rules being created to supposedly help one group, the consumers, will have an impact on the other group, the businesses, or basically anything that is not a consumer. Unless…. Fortunately the OSI model is a standard and it provides a level of predictability for everyone that wishes to apply its rules. If the FCC truly wants to protect end users rights to “legal” content (legal as defined by whom? Maybe WikiLeaks becomes deemed an illegal terrorist website and gets blocked by the US GOV? That’s for another article) then all of those in favor of better access to the Internet can organize and build it. This is the basis of every community fiber network build in the U.S. and abroad including the Australian NBN. The tools and the plans are all out there. The return on the investment is known as long as there is a path to physical interconnection. A positive outcome through a proper plan is as predictable as the negative impact of inaction. It is just a matter of knowledge and execution. Hunter Newby, CEO Allied Fiber (News - Alert) writes the Infrastructure Peering column for TMCnet To read more of Hunter’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
A Model for Access - Axcess Ontario
By Hunter Newby, CEO | March 01, 2011 This article originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
All around the United States there are many examples large and small of states, counties, cities and communities that are building dark fiber infrastructure to support network and ultimately application demand. They are often open access systems that encourage network service providers and carriers of all kinds to come and light the fiber. This model creates an even playing field through competitive pricing, terms and product offerings through control of the underlying physical fiber and interconnection process. Collectively these open systems form a fragmented picture of similar, yet disparate pieces that all seek uniformity. In as much as they gain benefits from creating their own local system they need and would benefit more from cross connecting their respective systems. The entire process is a journey, and each piece needs to be seen and understood for what and where it is. It is essentially the re-creation of the public Internet, but at the physical layer. Many of the builders and operators of these projects in the United States are not even aware of each other. This is both good and bad. It is bad because they could all benefit from the economies of scale that are derived from co-builds, best practices, bulk buying, etc. It is good though in the sense that it shows that many people out there know what needs to be done and are just going out and doing it. Go! Soon there will be a clear picture of how these disparate systems can plot a course for interconnection with each other to form that cohesive system that is required, like the interstate highway system that makes A to Z transport a reality between just about every meaningful point in the United States. Between now and then there is a lot of work to do, and opportunity is abound. One such local project is Axcess Ontario. Located in upstate New York sits Ontario County with a total population of just over 100,000 people (as of 2000) and a total area of 662 square miles. The Axcess Ontario project has been ongoing for several years now, and the project just recently completed its $5.5 million, 200 mile fiber ring around the county. From the recent announcement: To date, Axcess Ontario has signed master agreements with eight telecom and broadband companies, including Verizon Wireless (News - Alert) and national broadband provider tw telecom. Axcess Ontario is in continual discussions with other service providers, and is working aggressively on its next goal of luring a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) service provider to Ontario County. With the fiber ring complete, businesses and municipalities now have access to faster and less expensive broadband, as well as bandwidth equal to global broadband leaders. Businesses can gain access to the ring simply by
2 contacting any of the eight service providers that work with Axcess Ontario. There are several interesting aspects of this build including: - The project managers realized they did not have to build and therefore finance the FTTH immediately. This staged approach is a good example for others to follow that might have difficulties financing their build. - The open access philosophy isnâ€™t limited to just offering the dark fiber and access to all service providers that wish it, but also to promote the services of those that have taken the dark fiber to anyone seeking the lit services that the dark fiber provider does not provide. - As for revenue, Axcess Ontario already has executed agreements with service providers. This proves that demand exists for new dark fiber from multiple network operators in areas where it did not exist previously. Where there is cash flow, project financing can be structured. When it came to structuring the plan for Axcess Ontario, it engaged ECC Technologies, a technology consulting group that seems to have the blueprint and playbook for getting projects like this one financed and built. There are 3,143 counties in the United States with an average population of 100,000. Logic dictates that the others could follow this same plan and achieve similar success. As and when they do, the needs of the people and machines in the counties, states and country will ultimately be met. All they must do is follow the plan and build out, through and to complete interconnection. Hunter Newby, CEO Allied Fiber (News - Alert) writes the Infrastructure Peering column for TMCnet To read more of Hunterâ€™s articles, please visit his columnist page.
The Why of Broadband
By Hunter Newby, CEO | April 01, 2011 This article originally appeared in the April 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
Even with all of the investment and development of broadband communications infrastructure going on around the world today, it still seems that some people are not sure what the end results will be, or actually produce in terms of gains in productivity, output, etc. Knowing what the output will be is the why anyone would input investment. Beyond the why is the how. That piece gets a lot easier once the fire is lit, but there are many challenges in building the exact right thing to deliver on the vision. Starting with the why, a recent study conducted by e-North Carolina and SNG for the state of North Carolina has produced some of the most meaningful and concrete information and examples of why there must be an investment made in to broadband communications infrastructure. Here’s an excerpt from the study: e-NC and SNG announced today the findings of a comprehensive study of residents and businesses in the state of North Carolina. In all, 30,000 households and 70,000 businesses and organizations were surveyed to uncover utilization of broadband and e-solutions statewide, with 1,492 households and 6,266 businesses and organizations responding. The SNG study, conducted between February and October 2010, revealed the potential of broadband for competitiveness and economic opportunity: • Nearly one in five (18 percent) of new jobs were created as a direct result of broadband Internet. Small businesses (less than 20 employees) are especially dependent on broadband Internet as 28 percent of new jobs in that sector are attributed to using the Internet. • More than half of all businesses (54 percent) said that they would not be in business if they did not have broadband while two in five (41 percent) would have to relocate if broadband was not available in their community. • The number of households either currently running (31 percent) or planning to run a business from their home in the next twelve months (14 percent) is nearly half (45 percent) of North Carolina’s broadband households. • Even more broadband households are either now using (41 percent) or planning to use (24 percent) broadband to sell items online. That’s nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of broadband households using it to at least supplement their income.>
2 • Most (85 percent) of home-based businesses said that broadband was essential to their business. “We see in these findings how important broadband is to creating new jobs and improving quality of life in North Carolina,” said Michael Curri, president of SNG. “We now have the data that shows why it is so critical to promote broadband infrastructure along with adoption in North Carolina. E-NC has been and continues to be a leader in this field in making sure that North Carolina captures the benefits of broadband in the years ahead.”By employing e-strategies on multiple fronts, North Carolina will be poised to further leverage broadband for job development and economic growth.“Findings show thirty-nine percent of households say they would likely relocate if broadband was not available, while 55 percent of organizations say broadband is essential for staying where they are,” says Jane Patterson, executive director of e-NC. “These numbers illustrate why it is important for all of us to continue to address the issue of broadband expansion in North Carolina. The e-NC Authority will continue to work with all providers to encourage greater broadband coverage across the state. We will also place a special focus on working with small businesses to show how they can increase their revenue potential through use of the Internet.” What a great report! There are so many different pieces of information, but the answers tell the story of the questions that were asked and what the motivations of the state were to ask them. North Carolina’s primary motivation, and really that of any state, country, etc., is to protect the tax base by maintaining and even increasing the value, attraction and magnetic strength of the land. If the actual percentages in each bullet are put aside, as we can assume that the responses from other states would be the same, the truth comes out about the hopes and fears of the state.The fear is the bad side, of course.* New job creation is not only as a result of broadband Internet access, but also a requirement for the job. * Home businesses heavily rely on broadband Internet access.* If there was no broadband Internet access, the people and businesses would leave.* If they leave so goes the tax revenue and then the value of the land.The hope is the good side and rationale for investment.* People and businesses with broadband Internet access will stay where they are.* Once a business is in operation it is disinclined to move. * All of this increases the tax base. This insight into the thought process of the state is a key indicator as to what motivates it and keeps its managers up at night. It is very encouraging to see the way being paved by these thought leaders. Ensuring that it’s built properly so that everyone is competitively served – and that it is built by competent people with a real design plan and clear, honest intensions – is another story. To be clear, broadband is a very vague term. It should be noted that the true meaning or assumed definition of broadband is in fact broadband Internet access. This is somewhat tedious to say, but necessary to avoid having states, communities, etc., build broadband networks that are not connected to anything at all. They will have accomplished the goal of building a broadband network, but not what everyone actually expects, which is a broadband Internet network. Having several thousand homes connected
3 with 100 megabits each that all goes to a 45-megabit DS3 to the public Internet does not do anyone much good. In a practical sense every place is the same, so the truth about these statistics is that broadband Internet access is the key weapon in the war that is beginning between towns, counties, states and countries around the world right now. It is not too dissimilar to having proper roads, electricity and running water. These are the basics, and so now too is broadband Internet access. The winners will be the ones that put their energy and will in to building the proper infrastructure to support the new economy. Hunter Newby, CEO Allied Fiber (News - Alert) writes the Infrastructure Peering column for TMCnet To read more of Hunterâ€™s articles, please visit his columnist page.
The How of Broadband
By Hunter Newby, CEO | May 01, 2011 This article originally appeared in the May 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
Last month the “Why of Broadband” was covered. There are several motivations for investing in a real broadband network, but the state of North Carolina did everyone a favor by spelling out with clarity the financial implications to the state if the investment is not made. The reality for North Carolina in analyzing an investment in broadband was not the return on the investment that would be realized in terms of dollars and revenue generated as a result of the effort, but rather that if the investment is not made the state stands to lose everything it already generates in tax revenue. It is a matter of protecting the base that is the justification for the investment. Only from that vantage can the investment be understood and authorized. Once the reasoning for the investment is understood the proper network system, including the design as well as the business model, must be created and implemented. The model is not as simple as just “building a dark fiber network” and must be taken seriously for the outcome to be positive. There are three major components to how a broadband network for a community should be built to increase the probability of success. They are: 1. How the model works (philosophy, product, pricing) 2. How it gets financed 3. How it gets built (the design and construction itself) Just as in the case of the why, it is best to use examples of what others have already done to prove out to the interested and willing what path they should follow. The simple reasons for this are that no one typically ever wants to be first, and they always want someone else to blame if anything goes wrong, but also as a function of nature there are patterns and these patterns are typically of those things that came before and actually worked successfully, so there is real merit in following. Although there are several good examples around the U.S. and world, Axcess Ontario serves as a starting point for an outstanding model for others to follow. Axcess Ontario is a public benefit corporation that built, owns and operates a 200-mile, open-access, dark fiber ring around Ontario County, N.Y. It is affiliated with The Finger Lakes Regional Telecommunications Development Corp., a not-for-profit development corporation. Axcess Ontario leases dark fiber to network operators of all types. It has agreements with at least eight network operators including Iberdrola USA, which owns the Rochester Gas & Electric utility company; the Ontario Telephone company, which is the ILEC in the area; Verizon Wireless; Time Warner (News Alert) Telecom; as well as others. Lease terms range, but for example the Iberdrola deal was for 20 years. Axcess Ontario’s startup costs were originally budgeted at $7.5 million. This capital commitment was generated through the Ontario County Office of Economic Development/Industrial Development
2 Agency, a quasi-government agency created by the state to generate economic activity. Businesses in Ontario County pay the agency for various services, the revenue from which pays for initiatives like Axcess Ontario. Through an agreement with the ILEC, Ontario Telephone Co., worth approximately $2 million. Axcess Ontario was able to justify the construction and actually come in under budget at $5.5 million. Axcess Ontario received no state, or federal funding. What motivates buyers of dark fiber and to specifically use the Axcess Ontario network? “This investment will allow Iberdrola to provide improved services to businesses and residents throughout the community,” says Dan Hucko, director of media relations at Iberdrola USA.“The agreement also allows our company to hold the line on costs. If we did not have access to the fiber ring, we would either have to invest in the infrastructure ourselves, increasing our capital costs, or see our monthly telecommunications costs rise dramatically.” These factors are identical to those that motivate all operators of various network types that seek dark fiber to control costs and improve services. Where the customers, needs and business model all fit the dark fiber networks should and must be built. With the right mix of the ingredients above the investment makes sense. Ontario County clearly understood the issue the county faced in trying to maintain its base and also provide a platform for growth. The solution was the creation of Axcess Ontario. Its existence has caused the creation of revenue in a non-competitive manner with network operators, but creates competition between them for network service offerings which improve the quality and price that the businesses and end users in the county are provided. This is the chemistry of the best possible solution. Hunter Newby, CEO Allied Fiber (News - Alert) writes the Infrastructure Peering column for TMCnet To read more of Hunter’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
The Who, Will and When of Broadband
By Hunter Newby, CEO | June 01, 2011 This article originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
The Infrastructure Peering column is off to a great start in the mission to properly educate the masses one at a time and all at once. The last two articles covered the Why and How of Broadband, respectively, explaining what the real motivations are for towns, counties and countries around the world to invest in fiber infrastructure to create broadband and how, absent government funds, the investment is financed through a pure commercial model. Now that the components have been laid out they are more easily understood and acted upon. For those that have yet to take action it might help and add a little bit of motivation to take a look at some of the broadband speed statistics from around the world. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, based in Paris, keeps tabs on countries across a wide variety of issues including broadband. Over the past several years its ranking of countries based upon broadband speed statistics has become a trusted source that many rely on as a basis for their own views. As noted on the OECD website, this organization provides a forum in which governments can share experiences and seek solutions to common problems. “We work with governments to understand what drives economic, social and environmental change,” the site says. “We measure productivity and global flows of trade and investment. We analyze and compare data to predict future trends. We set international standards on all sorts of things, from the safety of chemicals and nuclear power plants to the quality of cucumbers.” The truth is, though, that the statistics are very misleading. Average is also a term that is suspect as it only takes in to account the speeds that are advertised and then added together and divided by that number, and not the total area that those speeds are available in and the number of people that they cover. This concept is known as population density. Fiber underpins all meaningful broadband networks, and the effective deployment of fiber in any given area is directly related to geography and population, or said another way, the cost to build and number of customers/revenue opportunities. To get a better, more accurate picture of where the United States actually ranks in terms of broadband speeds based on population density a whole new set of data is required. Clearly the United States ranks in first place for overall size and first place for overall population towering above the other eighteen countries ahead of us on the OECD list. That is a lot of build cost to cover, but also a lot of revenue opportunity assuming 20 megabits per user at $5 to $10 per megabit per month. Even with the size and population disparity of the United States against the others on the
2 list, the U.S. still has a respectable speed ranking. Probably the most misleading term of all is country. How can the United States be placed on a list of countries behind Luxembourg when the underlying principle is based on a physical infrastructure investment? It is nowhere near equal. Making the reason and path clear for those that still need to create broadband networks is the key to opening up a logical investment of time and energy and spurring on those that have the will to put forth the effort now, or at least as soon as possible thus answering the who, will and when. Hunter Newby, CEO Allied Fiber (News - Alert) writes the Infrastructure Peering column for TMCnet To read more of Hunterâ€™s articles, please visit his columnist page.
The Global Investment in Broadband Infrastructure By Hunter Newby, CEO | July 01, 2011 This article originally appeared in the July 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
Fear of the unknown continues to plague the minds of many in the United States today. Some live in fear of 2012, the Mayan calendar prophesies and the supposed end of the world. Although a cataclysmic event for the entire Earth is not totally out of the question (on a limited basis just ask the people in Fukushima, Japan), there is something more probably realistic that will end and that is the end of a way of life. Americans of the current and most recent generation have lived in a bubble of being the leader of the world as a superpower their entire lives and do not know what it is like to live any other way. Most have forgotten what it took to get the country to where it is as if it is all just boring history now. What the investment was back then is what we live off of now. We have reached a peak, and it is time to invest again. We should not be afraid of action, only inaction.To know the future just study the past. What investments were made by countries over the course of numerous years to create true world leaders? There are four main components that apply to all great nations.1. Currency – the strength and acceptance of a nation’s currency in the world gives that country stability and power. The United States has been the reserve currency of the world for decades. This is being challenged every day and is on the brink of changing as it faces the new economic power and model of China and the Yuan.2. Military – the size, and more so the technological capability, of a nation’s military and its ability to defend its own country as well as those of its allies and trading partners has made certain nations in history world leaders. The United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy (the Romans) and many more countries before them have held this position in the past, with the United States currently in the lead, but soon to be challenged by China for the top spot.3. Transportation & Utilities – an absolute essential component of any great society and nation are its transportation and utilities systems. Everything that comprises transportation including roads, waterways, rail, and airlines as well as electrical power, water and natural gas all exist to support the gross domestic product. The economic output of a nation is hinged on its ability to conduct business like a well-oiled machine. 4. Communications and Technology – having the best communications and technology infrastructure has always been a strategic differentiator. In times of war and peace a well run communications operation is paramount to success. The United States enjoyed the top spot in the world for several decades due to its first-class telephone system (the PSTN) given the size and population of the country. The playing field has been leveled with the global adoption of standards such as DWDM, Ethernet and Internet protocol.Within this framework a governmental system can exist and function. Depending on its charter and its constitution, it can either breed growth, innovation and prosperity for the many, or the few. The United States is the best example the world has ever seen in support of the many.America is in the process of being taught a lesson though. It is a lesson learned by many great nations before
2 it, and one that would have been best to avoid rather than repeat by learning form the mistakes of others. But it is seemingly unavoidable. It is the lesson of time itself.Over time all things mature. In nature there is a process of self creation and destruction. The cycle of the seasons, spring, summer, winter and the fall, all bring with them change. Without change there would be stagnation. No one person, or persons, makes the seasons change. It is something we are all necessarily dealt and must deal with.Change is rarely ever welcome by humans in life unless it is induced. Inducing change is the definition of control. When things are under control the outcome is usually predictable and optimal. The opposite is when change happens to you, and you must adapt. The outcome is not under control and not always optimal.The United States would be well served if its leaders understood and acted upon this simple premise and applied it to the four main components listed above. These components of a world leader are not random and disassociated. They are in fact all connected and necessarily support each other. When the United Statesâ€™ communications was operated by the Bell System and based on the PSTN, it was a national infrastructure and came with an engineering, operations and financial plan with a fixed return in exchange for sustainability and service for all. What we have now is not that. Today it is a profit-based system, and no gains are realized for those that do not fit in the new return profile. This is a weak link in the chain of the four components, as it has broken with a 100-plus year tradition and failed to communicate the consequences.The unknown is what America will become and how its people will live and prosper if it is no longer the world leader. This is not to say that the uneven and sub-par distribution of the communications and technology platform will be the sole reason for the demotion, but at the current level it is certainly not helping the situation. What the United States needs is a new model that will meet the demands of the people as well as the financial interests. Some people say that once you are at the top the only place to go is down. Others believe that once you are in the lead there is another way to go â€“ farther ahead. Without a loss though there can be no comeback story. At this point, coming to the brink is enough of a fall from the top for a comeback to be heralded. Whatever happens, America will not disappear, but it will be changed and forced to adapt to a new position if it does not induce the change itself and soon. It is important to note what investments other purported second and third world nations are making in their communications and technology supporting infrastructure. Many nations such as France and Spain were one time world leaders, and yet they obviously still exist and function not being in the top spot. Investments are being made by them and others to improve their communications systems because this is what is required to function at the optimal level as a society today.Below is a select list of highlighted news stories from the May 6, 2011, TeleGeography (News - Alert) CommsUpdate. TeleGeography is a supplier of data-driven telecommunications research, analysis and consulting services to carriers, equipment makers, investors and regulators worldwide. The date was picked randomly as well as the countries selected. It is meant to show that investing in communications infrastructure is occurring, is necessary and is essential to even nations that are not considered as world leaders. Ireland: 3 inks EUR38m contract with BT (News - Alert) to up broadband speeds to 100Mbps
3 Sri Lanka: Etisalat Sri Lanka launches DC-HSPA+ network; ‘ready for LTE’ Malawi: Celcom awarded license to provide fixed, mobile services Macedonia (FYROM):MakTel launches free Wi-Fi service in over 300 nationwide hotspots Turkey: Turkcell’s (News - Alert) Superonline unit launches 1Gbps broadband South Korea: KT points to increased smartphone subs as 1Q revenues, profit riseBrazilBrazilian Internet users reached 43.2m in March, report says The TeleGeography CommsUpdate is distributed five days a week and lists approximately 15 global communications news and developments each day. Clearly those on the list of nations developing first world communications infrastructure do not lack the knowledge as to why the investment is necessary. For those that lack the knowledge, or courage, the real fear should be in not making a proper investment for the future now. The paths are clear. Countries that invest with knowledge and confidence and without fear or ignorance serve their citizens well and will eventually be taking the top spots above those that let vested interests, inaction and stagnation rule. Hunter Newby, CEO Allied Fiber (News - Alert) writes the Infrastructure Peering column for TMCnet To read more of Hunter’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Infrastructure of the Internet Society
By Hunter Newby, CEO | August 01, 2011 This article originally appeared in the August 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
I was invited to speak on a panel at the Internet Society – New York Chapter on June 14, 2011, as part of the INET Conferences. The topic of the panel was “Pushing Technology Boundaries” and covered issues including Internet infrastructure models, the impact of potential technology breakthroughs and community fiber. Prior to the event the panel the moderator, Leslie Daigle, chief Internet technology officer of the Internet Society, sent out a list of questions to the panelists to set the stage and gain certain insights as to the various perspectives. In an effort to educate in mass beyond the select 200 people who were in attendance the following are those questions along with my answers. Leslie Daigle: The Internet started as an inherently collaborative network – indeed, an inter-network. What is the general Internet in this day and age, and what are the qualities of it that need to be preserved or nurtured to ensure it continues to provide the environment for innovation? Any that are not relevant? Hunter Newby (News - Alert): Open, neutral interconnection at the physical layer needs to be preserved. Private peering/cross-connects between any two networks in a neutral colocation facility is the basis of the Internet. Without layer 1, there is no 2, 3, etc. I believe the term public Internet, which is widely used and as widely misunderstood, refers to the open nature of the Internet in regards to interconnection. It is more commonly thought to be associated with the security risks of data though, and that term is interchanged with public cloud (in reference to frame relay and ATM) and that gets confused with cloud computing, which is something entirely different. We should all be more concerned about preserving the concept of a dictionary and clearly defining terms. Public, or private, it all starts with layer 1. Leslie Daigle: Rules of behavior have cultural and national boundaries as enforced by national laws. Indeed, the telecommunications industry has been governed by national (and international) regulations. However, the technical architecture of the Internet does not particularly recognize those frontiers. Could it? Should it? What would be the impact of those changes? Hunter Newby: Fiber specifications, DWDM, Ethernet, Internet protocol are all global standards because of their efficiency and effectiveness. It’s best to let that force of nature continue on its course. God forbid we have to go back to SONET-SDH conversions! The laws of nature are natural in a Darwin best of breed sense. The laws of nations are not as they are biased towards other interests. It is much easier to control and predict the behavior of machines, devices and components than it is to do the same for a nation of people. Then again, the machines help those who are in control of them to control the behavior of the people.Leslie Daigle: The Internet is built on the assumption that new services and applications can be built and deployed, without requiring advance permission. This can create
2 a tussle as those services may be competitive with ones offered by network operators. Is there a way to manage that, or is it just a fact of life? Hunter Newby: The ability to build and deploy without requiring advance permission is all about one thing: control. Having it means not having to ask permission. Not having it results in the net neutrality debate. The net in net neutrality refers to network and not the Internet. Most people I have asked do not know this and think it is about the Internet. It is in fact about the control of access to the Internet. That is where the gate of permission sits. Nature will dictate, just as water flows down hill, the path of least resistance. The key is to have multiple paths or networks available. If there is only one there will be a gate. In a truly competitive field (four or more different transport networks) there will always be at least one that dissents and provides an open platform for others to build and deploy applications that people want to use without interference by the underlying provider of the transport of the application. It was truly an honor to be on an agenda with such influential contributors to the global networking landscape as Tim Berners-Lee and Vint Cerf. The dialog throughout the entire day was very engaging and enlightening for many reasons and on many levels. To view the archived webcast please visit www.isoc.org. Hunter Newby, CEO Allied Fiber (News - Alert) writes the Infrastructure Peering column for TMCnet To read more of Hunterâ€™s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Fiber, Broadband, the Net - What Does it All Mean? By Hunter Newby, CEO | September 01, 2011 This article originally appeared in the Sept. 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
It is difficult to have a meaningful and productive discussion between any two or more people if those people all speak a different language. In any business dealing, let alone a casual conversation, if one person for example only speaks English and the other only Chinese then not a whole lot will be accomplished. At least in this situation it is clear that one side does not understand the other. In the world of communications infrastructure, ironically, people are speaking the same language, but in many cases they have different definitions of the words they are using. This leads to mass confusion and bad decisions that ultimately can cause serious problems. In order for mistakes to be avoided it is critical that everyone be on the same page. The difficulty in this is that it is not possible to test everyoneâ€™s telecom dictionary knowledge before a conversation begins. Therefore it is important to validate certain points as the dialogue progresses. There are many over-used and widely misunderstood terms today including: wireless backhaul, Net, capacity, fiber and broadband. To some, wireless backhaul means the transport of voice/data from mobile phones and devices, but to others it can mean using microwave technology for the actual transport link itself. In some cases microwave transport is used to backhaul mobile data traffic. The term wireless therefore has both a mobile and microwave meaning, but in the stream of a conversation it is easily lost in translation. The Net in net neutrality is understood by most people in the U.S. to refer to Internet, so they believe that net neutrality is about Internet neutrality. The Net actually refers to the word network, which has its own definition, but is basically related to the physical and data link layers and not layer 3 â€“ the Internet protocol layer. Network neutrality is something completely different than imposing regulations on individual websites, but since so few people understand this we now find ourselves faced with Internet regulations when in fact the regulations should be on fair access to the Internet instead. This difference in terminology has caused, is causing and will cause serious issues. Fiber is another term that is often used and difficult to define properly in the course of a conversation or presentation without running the risk of being labeled as long-winded, or verbose. The truth is that dark fiber is quite different than lit and, or managed fiber. Those that wish to light their own networks and want dark fiber cannot purchase fiber that is already lit. Lit fiber is not really fiber, it is a circuit. Industry experts are even using well-known acronyms in conversations that sound exactly like something most people already know, but they are using them to describe something else entirely. A good example of this is POTS, which just about everyone in telecom knows as the acro-word for the plain old telephone system. But when certain optical equipment vendors are speaking of their products they now say POT-S, which to them means packet optical transport system, but sounds in conversation
2 exactly like the other POTS. Just imagine how most people react when they hear in a presentation that POTS is going to save the communications infrastructure. Probably the most problematic of all is the confusion caused by the word broadband. The definition of broadband is so loose that it can be argued to have no real definition at all. Unless the person speaking of it takes the time to explain it in great detail, or the listener asks several qualifying questions, it is easy to take away a misconception and just as easy to mislead for the purpose of a deception. Broadband in most minds is analogous with speed. Speed is analogous with fast. In certain places in the U.S., broadband speed is being defined as 128kbps, which just about everyone functioning online today would say is not even remotely close to anything considered fast. In this case, broadband speed is an oxymoron. A word to the wise, know what the words being spoken and heard mean and you will be the wiser for it. Sometimes the journey to a common understanding is more enlightening than the end result. Know enough never to assume and always verify and, ultimately, bad decisions and mistakes can be averted. Hunter Newby, CEO Allied Fiber (News - Alert) writes the Infrastructure Peering column for TMCnet To read more of Hunterâ€™s articles, please visit his columnist page.
By Hunter Newby, CEO | October 01, 2011 This article originally appeared in the Oct. 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
By the time this article is published it should be well known that the United States government debt rating has been downgraded by one of the ratings agencies, Standard & Poor’s. It is somewhat difficult to imagine that an organization that rated Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac mortgages as AAA when in fact they were junk – which helped lead the United States and world into the most recent recession – would have any credibility left to now in turn downgrade the United States itself from AAA. This is not to say that the U.S. government is without faults and issues, but the old adage of “the pot calling the kettle black” comes to mind. Maybe it is true that the “emperor has no clothes” and everyone was afraid to say it. So, someone finally did; but in this case the one that said it has no clothes either. Reality is that the only perfect thing is imperfection when it comes to anything that humans touch. Therefore, ultimately, no one is above judgment. All people, institutions and organizations must be held accountable for their actions or inactions; otherwise, society becomes unbalanced and unfair. Interestingly, there seem to be those who believe they are, or in fact are, above accountability. This becomes increasingly apparent as we are all now being told that this President and government are only dealing with what they were handed from the past administrations and, essentially, “it’s not their fault”. That may be somewhat accurate, but by not facing the difficult issues and putting a real plan in place now and instead only “kicking the can down the road,” which is what happened when the debt ceiling was raised with no agreement on spending cuts, or new taxes, it only caused this administration to do the same as the prior to the next. This sentiment and cycle has certain similarities to the difficult, if not impossible, investment decisions that need to be made for critically necessary nationwide communications infrastructure upgrades in the United States. Over the past 10 years our infrastructure has been downgraded by the combination of sheer time, increased utilization, the accounting function of amortization and a financial return on investment (the same can be said for much of our power, sewer and bridge infrastructure as well). The fundamental problem is that the cost and time to build new network infrastructure to support the speed at which demand increases in a country the size of the U.S. exceeds that of the typical required rate of return on invested capital. Either the time horizon on the return needs to change to something much longer than 3 to 5 years, or everyone must pool their resources and requirements to justify the overall investment. The communications industry needs to come together on a plan that addresses the status of the physical network infrastructure of the entire country and the best way to design, build, maintain and finance it. Otherwise we will be left behind as the rest of the world enjoys a higher level (AAA) of networking functionality. Coming together on a plan that works is essentially what the President, Congress and the Senate must do to restore the financial health of the entire country.
2 To understand the impact of the S&P downgrade on the ability for U.S. telecom companies to finance their growth just look to what the S&P equity analysts themselves say: “While the two largest companies in the telecom sector are facing distinct challenges, S&P Equity Research believes AT&T and Verizon are likely to attract investor attention this week, as they have the strongest balance sheets in the sector (A- from S&P Ratings), generate adequate free cash flow to support their dividends, yielding approx 6%, and have wireless operations focused on customers with strong credit profiles. However, AT&T (News - Alert) is in the midst of closing its pending deal for T-Mobile USA that will require debt financing, while a large portion of Verizon’s wireline employees went on strike this past weekend. In contrast, we think more moderately sized integrated telecom carriers such as Frontier Communications and Alaska Communications that have non-investment grade credit ratings from S&P and that pay a significant portion of the their free cash flow for dividends are a greater risk as they could be hurt more as corporate interest rates rise.” –S&P analysts Scott Kessler and Todd Rosenbluth So it seems that S&P’s opinion of these companies all comes down to their balance sheet, free cash flow and credit rating – from S&P. This is somewhat self-fulfilling, isn’t it? S&P may not have a high regard for some of them, which then in turn impacts their ability to borrow competitively and grow. But clearly even with the downgrade they have not lost confidence in all of them. The S&P downgrade has not and will not stop the United States. It only means it will now cost us more to fix our problems. But, hopefully, it has also given us the cause to face them. Hunter Newby, CEO Allied Fiber (News - Alert) writes the Infrastructure Peering column for TMCnet To read more of Hunter’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
The New American Dream: Real Broadband Speed By Hunter Newby, CEO | November 01, 2011 This article originally appeared in the Nov. 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
America has always offered the promise of a better life for everyone. Over the years the good life has been projected into the minds of the masses as a certain standard that comes with the basic ingredients. Some of the more popular benefits of this society over the past several generations have been the notion of a chicken in every pot and a car in every driveway. In the current generation, one could argue that the new standard is a megabit in every home (or in every hand). It is somewhat safe to say that delivering on the first two basics were accomplished, albeit not for everyone as some people do not drive and some do not eat chicken, but they still have “access” to those thing if they want them. The point is clear, though. Food and personal transportation are basic essentials, and in this country they were attainable. The same can be said about broadband vv(high-speed access to the public Internet) in that it is a basic, fundamental need for most people in this country today. But it cannot be said that it is actually available for everyone – even if they want it. The fundamental issue is what is “broadband”? Simply put, it is implied speed of access to the Internet. Speed is, unfortunately, a subjective term. For the people who only have their feet to get them around, getting in a car going 10 miles per hour would be considered a high rate of speed. That’s the same as saying dial-up is faster than nothing. It is a true statement; but unless you are satisfied with just e-mail, it doesn’t really help much. A recent article in The New York Times by Katharine Seelye of Pando Networks, a consumer download accelerator business, said the highest average download speed in any state in the United States is 894kbps. That state happens to be Rhode Island, and that average speed happens to be less than one megabit – in the entire U.S. Idaho is the slowest state, at 318kbps. If 10 MPH is the baseline for automotive “speed” and today we can easily travel through the country at an average, legal speed of 65 MPH, then we need to set out a plan for a 6.5 times increase in the average broadband speed of each state. That’s a state average of 2mbps for Idaho and 5.8mbps for Rhode Island. Population density plays a direct role in achieving both the goals of profitability and faster speed for the consumer. Rhode Island is 50 times more densely populated than Idaho, and therefore has a higher average speed – although it is only 2.8 times faster. Another interesting point to note is that if 92 percent of the customer base of Idaho’s largest ISP has “access” to “broadband”, but the state average is only 318kbps, then what is the definition of broadband in Idaho? No one can fault a business for wanting to make a profit. Profitability is how businesses succeed, but what about the greater good? How does this issue get properly addressed?
2 If the population doesn’t grow in the sparsely populated areas the business case justification to build real broadband speed networks may never materialize. Even if grant money can build a fiber ring in the middle of nowhere, where does the money come from for the backhaul out of that county or state? What about the capital necessary just for the routine maintenance and operations of the network? These are not small details that can be overlooked. Addressing this problem and setting out a real plan to fix it will be a massive undertaking. The new American Dream of a megabit in every home needs a dose of financial reality, or else it may forever end up being just that – a dream. Hunter Newby, CEO Allied Fiber (News - Alert) writes the Infrastructure Peering column for TMCnet To read more of Hunter’s articles, please visit his columnist page.